October 23, 2007
The Family Speaks Out
After reading this site and seeing how many readers want to better understand what happened in this case, the family involved in the Mary Bonn arrest has decided to break their silence with a Guatadopt exclusive.
Below you can download their statement, which is basically what the adoptive father read in the courtroom during Mary's sentencing. It is worth noting that to my knowledge, Mary does not dispute this accounting of what happened.
Some groundrules.... We allow all viewpoints and if Mary wants to send us something, we'll post it. BUT, our rules about not allowing personal attacks on the family stands. Feel free to question if you think they made the right decisions, but I will not tolerate anyone turning them into villains. Call that unfair if you like, it's our blog and we make the rules! Our loyal readers know just how much we do not censor comments.
I will add one thought for everyone to consider as they read this 20+ page document. None of us were there at the time. There is old saying about don't judge until you walk a mile in someone's mocassins. It is very easy for all of us to say "I'd have done..." when we were not faced in the situation these folks found themselves in. In addition, let's not confuse the fact that the mother left Guatemala without her daughter with what happened after that.
Some will accuse me of just not letting this thing go. You can accuse me of anything you like. I'll just say that this family is now dear to me and they asked me to post this as part of their healing process. Thus far, they have remained quiet, reading all of the third person perspectives on this case and seeing Mary play the story with the media. The family knows darn well that they could go to any traditional media outlet and have a sympathetic media blast this to the masses. But instead, they chose Guatadopt because what's more important to them is not the publicity, it is that the adoptive community of which they are members understand what happened.
Here is the statement: Download file
Posted by Kevin at October 23, 2007 11:00 PM
just an fyi...I'm not sure if anyone else is having the same problem, but I keep getting an error message stating that this file is damaged and can't be opened.
Thank you for posting this. I very much followed this case because a friend of mine was bamboozled by Mary as well. My heart goes to this family for fighting so hard, and doing what is truly right. I think this does add some closure to this, but at the same time it shows us we have a RIGHT to stand up for these children, no differently than any biological child.
What a horrible nightmare!! I am beside myself with grief for what this family has endured. I am relieved that it is now over and that Mary Bonn is being punished. Thank God that this precious child has finally been united with her true family.
OMG, i can't even imagine - i'm sitting here stunned of what you went through.
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am so glad your child is home. You and your wife showed so much strength.
Thank you for sharing your story! I have "watched" this nightmare for months now but reading your words brought goose bumps. Thank you, S & R for having the courage to stand up for your situation.
This is such a horrible ordeal to have gone through. Thank you for your courage in speaking out and seeking the truth.
Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot imagine how difficult this has been for you, your family, and your baby. I admire you and your family for your persistance and strength.
There are always two sides to every story and I am so glad that yours was a happy ending. We have hit every road block you can to bring our son home. He is still in Guatemala but I know when it's time he will be home.
Thanks for sharing your story.
WOW!! This is like a really bad dream that you keep trying and trying and just can't wake up from.
In reading this story (and I know there are lots of Mary supporters out there) I shudder to think what could have happened to my own daughter, whose adoption was facilitated by Mary. She is a very vengeful and vindictive woman who got off WAY to easy for her crime. As much as this family suffered, (and as bad as my own experience with this facilitator was), I wonder how many others have endured needless pain and suffering because of Mary's actions. I would venture to say hundreds, if not thousands.
To this family, my heart has gone out since I first learned of their saga, but reading the whole story from their perspective left me in a puddle of tears and a desperate need to go into the bedroom of my own precious 3 3/4 year old daughter and hold her in my arms and thank God with every fiber of my being that Mary didn't get her hands on my little angel a year prior to this horrible event.
This family is very brave and very blessed to finally have their daughter home with them. I am sorry that you have had to endure all that you have in order to be a family, but I do want to say to you that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. In your case that is certainly true and because of your family's pain, no other family will EVER be subjected to the pain Mary Bonn could inflict upon unsuspecting adoptive parents. God Bless you all as you enjoy your family being complete and as you try to heal from this nightmare caused by this woman who STOLE your daughter and lied for 9 months as you desperately sought answers. My heart goes out to you and I applaud your strength and courage. Your actions prove beyond all doubt the magnitude of love you have for your daughter. She is a very blessed little girl, not just because she was adopted from Guatemala, (and certainly not thanks to Mary kidnapping her), but because she has parents who loved her enough to go through all that you have in order to be a part of her life.
So sorry you had to endure this. There are too many villians in this story. I admire your tenacity and faith. I hope the your enjoyment of your wonderful family helps ease the pain of those sad months. God bless.
What a heartbreaking story - I'm glad you got your happy ending at last.
What a cruel, amoral person Mary Bonn is. It's unfathomable that there are people out there still blindly supporting her and her lies.
I've read the posts regarding this case and wanted to reach out to the family. After reading what this family has experienced i truly hope others will find it in their hearts not to question the decisions they made. Honestly this is their adoption story, this is something real that happened to them, they had to live this nightmare but they did not have to share it with us, nor do they owe anyone in the adoption community an explanation for the choices they made. I am glad that by telling their story they might gain some closure and be able to begin their healing process. As i read the statement it brought back a great deal of pain that my family experienced from a failed adoption. I say failed adoption for lack of a better word as our adoption was completed, but we were refused a travel visa for our son. When the welfare of your family is involved there is nothing worse than not knowing who can be trusted, especially when you are in a foreign country. About 6 mos. after our adoption tragedy the facilitator involved in our case was banned from the u.s. embassy and Kevin posted the information on this site. I just like others in the community came here for information. I remember how violated i felt as i read comments made about our adoption story. Not many details were mentioned, our names were not publicized or anything like that, but comments were made and i knew the case in question was ours. I'm sure those that commented meant no ill will towards my family, but the truth of the matter is that i was still very raw from what we had experienced. It was our adoption story, we lived it, we were still living it as we continue to live with the pain today.....and here was someone making flip comments about a situation they knew nothing about. I'm glad that Kevin holds this family dear to his heart and will not allow anyone to make personal attacks against them. This family deserves to be at peace and to have the support of the adoption community, not to be judged or questioned by others that did not experience what they had to endure. We would all do well to take a walk in the other persons shoes once in awhile before we find it necessary to comment. All my best to this family. ~Pam
I am so sorry for what you had to go through. Thank you for sharing. May God richly bless your family!
So thankful the Lord brought your family together.
What a miracle! Thank you for sharing your story~ we will continue to pray for you.
No family should have to endure such pain. I hope your story has inspired others as much as it has inspired me. I wish your family could know how much support you have from those of us who have Guatemalan angels, too. May God Bless You and may this upcoming holiday season be one of peace for your family.
Thank you for your courage!
There but for the grace of God go I. Our case with Mary Bonn went through without any issue but any of us could have been you! Your persistence and conviction is/was amazing.
wow. what a truly horrible experience. the only thing i'm glad to read is that the story had a happy ending....the reunification of a family.
Thank you for finally sharing your story! What an awful ordeal, and you showed incredible tenacity. After going through months and months of questioning and digging, how anyone could say you didn't want your daughter is mind-boggling. I know the shock of having a malnourished and underdeveloped child placed in my arms, you go numb, and have all kinds of thoughts and feelings bouncing around inside. I still don't understand what went on at the embassy/immigrations that they allowed your daughter in without smelling something fishy. I'm sure your family will be feeling the aftershocks of this ordeal for quite a while and I just ache for you and especially what your daughter had to endure. God bless!
I sit here feeling a lot of grief for the family and relief that it wasn't me. I, too, had Mary Bonn as a facilitator and this story makes me want to find my daughter's birthmother all the more. I shudder to think that Mary may have used underhanded ways in my adoption. I think this is just one more example of why open adoption, when possible, should be the norm in international adoption, just as it is in domestic adoption.
There are adoptee-rights advocates who think there should be no international adoptions and Mary's history fuels their fires. Let's all work to reform the process to hinder the Marys of the world and give all those who are party to the adoption triangle (birth and adoptive parents and the children) the most information as possible.
I too want to thank the family for sharing their story. It certainly clarifies a few things and helps us to further understand the deception and fraud that has been carried out. As for the embassy letting something get by them--children are smuggled into the US frequently. In fact, some people believe that children are the easiest humans to smuggle under false identity, etc. God only knows how many children have suffered this fate and live under new identity without real knowledge of their history or intentions of their birth family. Those guilty have carried out grave human rights abuses and Mary Bonn got off easy!
Thank you for posting this story.
I really hope that the changes made in Guatemala ensure that this sort of thing never happens to another family again.
I don't think Mary Bonn is the only unethical facilitator in Guatemala; the system needs reform.
To the Olsen's,
You have put together a very well-written summary of events that states your case extremely well. Good on you for speaking up for yourself and your family -- you deserve to shout it from the rooftops after all the lies that have been told about you.
After reading your account, I am both heartbroken about your ordeal and angry at the many brick walls you ran into. I wouldn't have expected the FBI to brush off a case of kidnapping! How incredibly shameful of them. I think of what would have happened if I had been faced with the same experience (against Kevin's advice about not knowing until you walk in somebody else's moccasins). I think this would have completely broken me as a person. The repeated unanswered pleas for help must have been devastating. Its a true testament of your parental devotion and strength of character that you made it through this.
I'm so glad that your family is intact, and that justice is (finally) being served.
Words cannot fully express how I am feeling right now after reading your story.
I admire so much your faith, courage and determination. Your family truly humbles me and puts things into perspective.
In 2002 I gave birth to a daughter who later passed away. As I read this story, it reminded me of the grief my husband and I felt during the time leading up to and after her death. The little signs of faith one looks to for guidance and "gut" feelings that lead you to make certain decisions. Looking back, I too know that although the outcome of our ordeal was not a happy one, God did still play a part in helping us along the way.
Now, my family is in the process of adopting a little girl from Guatemala. I have spent the last 2 months consumed by fear that our journey will not finish in a positive manner due to all of the political decisions being made that we have no control over.
Reading this story has given me faith that all will work out for the best for us and for my little girl. We will be able to welcome her home one day.
Thank you for putting into words the love for your child.
Waiting for Tess
My stomach churns as I read your story, and I can fully empathize having been through a failed adoption attempt. Your strength and resolve are inspiring, and I thank you for sharing. It would be impossible to express my feelings about Mary and those who endorse her tactics without using profanity; suffice is to say her stay in prison will be too short.
That story made me cry, i am so glad that the end result was that the child was returned to her family, but to take her away at such an important time in her life developmentally is just unforgivable. We should all be so lucky to have such caring parents as these obviously are.
What a heart-wrenching story. I'm glad that the family has shared it - this saga certainly required a lot of tenacity. I hope that their little girl's medical issues are finally addressed and that they can put this ordeal behind them.
Thank you Kevin and Guatadopt... you have helped so many families including ours!!!
I am shocked at all that your family had to go through. I don't know if I would have been that strong. God is going to bless your family for years to come. I am so thankful that your daughter is finally home where she should be. God bless you family! Mary must really have a serious sickness to put your family through all of this. The best thing we can do is pray for her and hope that she NEVER has anything to do with adoptions again.
Thank you for having the courage to put your story out there. Thank God you didn't give up on this child, she is truly blessed to have you. Because of people like Mary Bonn, who think they are above the law is why those of us still stuck in the adoption process are dealing with the delays and additional scrutany being placed on cases today.
I'm curious, has the department of social services done any type of background check/DNA testing to insure the other children in Mary's home are there legally?
I am very sorry that you went through this horrible ordeal. I am also sorry that there are people who have judged you for your choices in dealing with the events you were thrust into. If Mary had done her job as a facilitator, you would not have had to deal with these events at all. I hope that you find the emotional healing that you deserve and eventually these events will become a distant memory as you spend time with your wonderful child.
Kindest Regards, Cheryl
I sincerely appreciate the time the Olsen's took to share their side of the story to this very traumatic expierence. I think this really helps the readers to understand what actually happened. My heart really goes out to their child, who had to endure so much trauma in her young life. From the malnutrition and neglect she apparently suffered in her foster home, to the multiple care givers she has had to attach to and then lose..... she has really been thru a lot in her young years. I sincerely hope that she is able to heal from these traumas, and find some peace and be able to trust again. That is SO much for a child to go thru! Mr. Olsen did not mention about the state of the health of his child upon picking her up from Mary Bonn 's home? Was she is good health? I sure hope so.
Thanks to the guat adopt writers for taking time to share this part of the story. It was truly past due.
Concerned Adoptive Mother
My heart goes out to you for all that you have been through. I am angered and sickened by the unspeakable acts of Mary Bonn, the attorney in Guatemala and the others involved in this cover up.
May God Bless you and your family.
Oh my goodness...Just reading this I'm emotionally exhausted. I cannot imagine the torture that this poor family had to endure. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it must be difficult to re-live the entire ordeal, but please know that no one here places ANY blame for the state of Guatemalan adoptions on you! You did what any parent would do, and I admire your courage and perseverence in not giving up! Thank you for standing up for adoptive parents everywhere!
I wish I could fully express how sorry I am that you and your family went through this to get your precious little one. I am stunned. I truly admire your tenacity and faith. Please know that you will be in my family's prayers as you move forward from this terrible ordeal.
Thank you for sharing the parents story. It's truly horrifying to imagine what Mary Bonn and others were able to do in the 'interest of a child' and I'm glad there has been punishment.
I agree with what the parents said - Mary Bonn is part of the reason Guatemalan adoptions have been under increased scrutiny.
Thank God they have their daughter.
Thank you, Guatadopt.
Thank you Olsen family.
I was a bit cynical when I read the story without your explanation. I just want to apologize, and tell you you have reformed me! What an incredible counterpoint to the sordid Bonn side of it all. You didn't ask to be heroes, but when the circumstances called for courage, perserverance and ...real love for that child, you were found to be the real thing: Parents. You saved her from who knows what.
Amazing story. I cried the whole way through. Your strength gives us hope for our little girl. DH and I agree, you need to write a book and go on Oprah. Take the money and help more children in Guat. Let me know if you need any help if this crusade is your calling. We would be proud to work with a family like yours. God Bless
Dear Kevin, Kelly, and all at Guatadopt.com,
I stand in awe of you.
You have shown remarkable restraint in waiting until now to post this statement, and I personally applaud you. As much as many of us may be angry that the nature of Guatemalan adoption is changing forever, the Mary Bonn case is incredibly strong evidence that there is MAJOR need for reform.
May God bless and protect the children.
I feel compelled to state that anyone who shook their fingers at you while they were supporting Mary Bonn should now hang their heads in shame. Those who ranted about there being "two sides to a story" be damned! I said it on Guatadopt before and I repeat it now, "The reason people are offered - and accept - a plea agreement is because the evidence is so overwhelmingly strong against them that there is little point in trying to defend the charges in a trial... the government's case against her was so strong that she (Mary Bonn) leaped at the chance to plead guilty to lesser charges, which resulted in a relatively light sentence... If Mary Bonn really had a defense to make, she would have made it..."
As a side note, after reading the sentencing statement, Guatadopt's posting of the picture of the "mystery child" now finally makes sense. Our family is proud of y'all.
At the same time, after reading the statement I am very sad that Mary Bonn will not spend many more years in prison.
Husband to Esperanza, and father to Marilu, our "miracle girl"
Bless you, the Olsen family ! You have shown true courage and love, and inspired me to never give up on completing a family, no matter the obstacles. May the many, many happy years you will certainly have together help heal the current pain and may you enjoy every minute of your lives together.
As a former "Mary Supporter" I had to write after reading this post. I did support Mary based on the following: she facilitated the adoption of one of my children and, in my opinion, she went 'above and beyond' in communicating with me and with providing us information on our son. Secondly, at the time I was preparing to bring home our son, she told me (over the phone) of her woes of a family who "abandonded their child on their pick up trip". Over a period of a month, I would occasionally ask about how the little girl was doing and Mary gave me her side of the story.
With our adoption complete in late April of 2006, a year went by and I never spoke to Mary again. When the news broke that Mary had been arrested, I couldn't believe the coincidence when I concluded that the child she had taken into the U.S. was the child that I assumed she had told me about. I reached out to those close to Mary and of course, I was told her side. I was told of "proof" and documentation that supported her case.
Then people started bashing Mary and I felt sorry for her, believing that what Mary had told me was the truth. For me, who had a good experience with Mary, I couldn't imagine Mary lying nor could I fathom a family leaving a child in Guatemala who was, in Mary's description, "a little behind". In these situations, it is hard not to make judgments and after all...this site is for "discussion" and opinion sharing. I figured that the family never spoke out because they had done something wrong and Kevin often said "not to judge" which made me feel that the family's side was in fact questionable.
I read the court report with interest and great dismay. Although I am sure this is virtually meaningless to anyone, I do want to apologize to the Olsen's for taking Mary's side. I had a relationship with Mary as our facilitator. I did not know the Olsen's. I've never met Mary but she did a fantastic job facilitating our adoption and the adoption of a dear friend of mine. I chose to trust my personal experiences with her over what was written by faceless emailers. It is pretty hard to fathom what was written in this 22 page report. It was hard to get my head around it. When Mary was arrested I DID think that Mary was insane to have broken the law..but I did think she was trying to 'save a child' and that this was at least morally vindicating. I suspected that the family had a change of heart and wanted to pursue their child but that it was months and months later after not being given their money back. After all, Mary is a single Mom with a house of adopted kids - I was told she had a big heart when I asked about her prior to chosing our agency.
Based upon reading the Olsen's post and the outcome of the case, I was clearly wrong. Clearly the Olsen's never decided not to keep their daughter. Clearly they were victimized and deceived. I drank the Kool-Aid and couldn't believe that Mary was capable of creating such a complicated scheme of lies. When this story broke, I had no idea who the adoptive family was, who the agency was, etc. When I learned that we had the same agency sometime late in the game, I was even more shocked. I was just a client, like the Olsen's who had a VERY different experience with AFOD and Mary. It SEEMED like Kevin was out to get Mary and since she helped bring our son home, I couldn't believe she acted without some moral conscience.
So, to Kevin and especially to the Olsen's: I apologize for chosing to voice my experiences, my opinions and for causing anyone distress. I am sorry for defending Mary without keeping an eye on the possibility that she was lying to me. Because she helped me, it was hard to see that she would chose not to help every adoptive parent. I thought I had witnessed her grieving for a child caught up in a failed adoption. I thought this little girl had been abandoned on her pick up trip. I drank the Kool-Aid and I am sorry for my contribution in the "two sides" debate. Turns out that while there are of course, two sides, it looks like the Olsen's side was the honest, moral side. Thank God that the truth prevailed. Thank you for finally speaking out.
Thank you for letting us see into this private and painful experience. Before we knew who you were my heart went out to you. The stress of the adoption process was tough on my family, but we knew our children were with the most amazing foster family, getting exceptional care and being represented by very honest people. I suppose you are surprised at your own strength! I can't imagine the toll it took on you both and your children. I pray you will have many peaceful years in your future.
In the aftermath of this case I am so angry that this one person can add so much fuel to the negativity surrounding the adoption process in Guatemala. There is corruption as you have experienced, but there are a lot of people with honest intentions whe are providing such blessings through adoption.
Thank goodness your daughter is home safe and we can welcome another Washintonian into the state!
Many thanks to the family for sharing such a tragic story. My heart goes out to you all.
Please let the readers know how your daughter is doing. I hope she is healthy and strong.
Wow, that was an amazing read, I could not put it down, I'm so sorry you had to go through this living hell. Bless you and your family. God is good and I'm glad he lead your hearts to your daughter.
Thanks for your post, it takes courage to apologize.
Kevin, keeping mum must have been so hard! You really are a great moderator. Thanks for always reminding us to keep an open mind.
This was a truly remarkable story. I can not believe the courage that this family displayed. They have far more courage than I will ever have. I'm just so glad that they finally found their child, against what seemed like insurmountable odds. It's is unfathomable to me how inept everyone was was supposed to help them find their child. Even more sad is the fact that M.B. will only spend a year in jail.
This is such a totally unbelievable story! I am so sorry that you had to endure that! God bless you and your family. I wish you all the best for the future and hope your daughter is doing well and is healthy. Thank you for sharing your story, I hope it helps you heal by telling it.
All the best,
Your story does tell all, adoption is God's way of bringing families together. Your family has alot of courage. We prayed often for your family.
If not wrong to ask, Kevin, can you give an update on the daughter? Is she progressing well?? Our prayers continue and pray God's blessing on our family.
The child is doing fine. I met them all a few months ago and I have to say that she was absolutely precious and very much enamored by her mommy and daddy.
I am sure it was really hard for you to write your post. Your the first parent to write a post like this on this subject, it either been people who had awfull experiences, or people who had great experience. It brings an important fact in this situation, that one person's experience with the same agency could be an awesome experience and then another family's can be a nightmare.
Oh what an ordeal for this precious child! My heart just breaks to hear of what she has been thru...... so many changes and so much to go thru for such a young life! I am thankful to hear that she is healthy and doing well. She deserves a happy & healthy life.
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings
Thank you for sharing the details of this saga. Praise God for the happy ending! One comment, and one question. Comment- I agree with a previous post that you should write a book, or have a movie made- I know it's not about money, but money doesn't hurt, and it *can* do so much good in the hands of good people such as yourselves!
Question, did the judge honor your 3 requests? I would hate for Mary to get out of prison and make even a penny from this.
My heart goes out to this family, thank you for sharing your story. I was in PGN when Mary Bonn was arrested and did not know what to think. Selfishly I focused on getting my son home and thank goodness it all worked out. I mention this because I understand the fear, anxiety, and sense of powerlessness entailed in adopting internationally. I can't imagine how awful it would have been to have it all go so wrong. I am also aware of the power that the agency and all of those inolved have and wield over the anxious parent. My requests for information were ingnored or stymied with mild threats to 'not cause problems'. My only solice in the process and advice to anyone in process is to go visit your child as many times as possible, if only for the weekend! I spent well over $8000 visiting my son. Getting to know him was the gift, but the intent was to check on his well being. Fortunately his foster mother was a godsend and cared for him completely. The visits were worth every minute and every dollar (debt). They created face to face accountability throughout the adoption. It is true that the point of paying an agency is to create that accountability. However, sadly, I felt that visiting was necessary, especially in a system that is run by connections and the ego that Mary Bonn's case exposes. In summary, I only mention my experience to give the parents in process one more tool to protect themselves and their child, not to suggest that anything more should have or could have been done by these parents. I am so grateful for my little angel and heartened that this brave and persistant family has their little girl.
Dear Olsen family,
I am in awe over the incredible amount of perseverance you had while you waited, waited, and waited, all the while maintaining a glimmer of hope and faith.
My family worked with A Field of Dreams, and had Mary Bonn as well. I have been reading info on this site since we returned home with our daughter, and was sickened the day I read about Mary Bonn's arrest, and AFOD's involvement.
All along I have been wondering when/if AFOD would be sued/exposed in all of this. I am glad you sued them, but sad justice did not truly prevail with them and Mary, and all the other people who failed to do the right thing.
So many times I have wanted to contact the BBB (I live in central PA) about them, but afraid to, and not having the mental energy to. God Bless you for having the courage to do so!
I would so like to expose them--there has not been any press coverage about your case and AFOD in the local papers/TV, and it is a shame. Everyone should know what cowards they are. And to think the director has 2 children from Guatemala herself.
If anyone has any ideas of how I can expose them (without committing slander/libel), let me know. They shouldn't be allowed to operate anymore.
To the Olsen family: I read all 21 pages of your story and the ordeal you went through. I had the opportunity to meet your daughter back in July 2006. Mary Bonn was doing a presentation for the agency in Naples I was going to use for my adoption. She brought the little girl (YOUR DAUGHTER) to this presentation. When I met your daughter, I fell in love with her and the Guatemalan children and the deal was sealed for me. I HAD to adopt from Guatemala. So, the presence of your little angel inspired me to become the mom of a beautiful little girl who is now 15 months old. I'm so thankful she found her way home to her true family.